GCC fast-food boom sees two-thirds of diners eating at QSRs

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock

Related tags: Nutrition

The GCC’s fast-food segment was worth more than US$20bn last year, making it one of the 20 biggest quick-service markets in the world, and is expected to grow by nearly a further 50% by 2020.

The food services market has been growing at an annual average rate of 6.8% in Gulf countries, and should reach a value of US$28bn in three years’ time, said Al Masah Capital.

Its report on the quick-service segment found it was the biggest food segment in the region, accounting for almost two-thirds of the overall eating-out market.

This segment is dominated by international brands, largely due to their affordability, the sheer volume of outlets across the region and heavy advertisement​,” it added. 

Major industry trends like online ordering, casual dining, food trucks, kiosks and changing consumer palates were also found to be behind demand for fast food increasing further in the region. Casual dining also gained mass appeal, in terms of Western-style coffee culture, especially among youths. 

Meanwhile, another report has put the UAE behind Norway and Switzerland as being home to the third-biggest F&B spenders globally in shopping malls.

Having surveyed 22,000 consumers across 22 markets, global property advisor CBRE found that UAE residents spent on average AED68 (US$18.50) per person, per mall visit—just AED6 behind Switzerland.

Nick Maclean, CBRE’s regional managing director, said: “F&B accounts for approximately 10-20% of the retail mix in Dubai, with this weighting expected to grow to around 25-30% in the next five years, as F&B continues to play a disproportionately important role to shoppers in the emirates​.” 

In its study of malls, it found that healthy food was growing in popularity. Of the UAE respondents surveyed, 51% wanted to see more healthy food, while 23% wanted fewer fast food chains. 

Changing demand trends among consumers has made way for a greater focus on independent offers and ‘pop-up’ restaurants concepts—with an innovative, and increasingly personalised, F&B experience at the core of consumers’ desire to see something different​,” the report added. 

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